Realtors find bright spots in flat market | SkyHiNews.com

Realtors find bright spots in flat market

Reid Armstrong
rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, CO Colorado

A sign advertises condominiums for sale at the Inn at SilverCreek in Granby. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News

Nobody’s sugar coating it. Real estate in Grand County, like anywhere these days, is a tough sell. The market is flooded with inventory, and buyers are on the hunt for great deals.

There are more than 500 single family residences on the market across the county at the moment, and only 22 of those are bank-owned. In the past six months, 90 houses have sold across the county; 34 of those were foreclosure sales.

The average time a single family residence sat on the market in 2010 ranged from 190 days in Granby at the low end to 353 days in Winter Park at the high end, and there’s a three-year inventory on the market.

One of the toughest things for sellers out there, said broker Katie Riemenschneider with Real Estate of Winter Park, is that many of them can’t wrap their heads around current market.

“They used to be able to throw something out there with a $50,000 mark up on it and somebody would buy it. But, buyers are really price conscience now.”

Still, there are a few bright spots in the market.

Recommended Stories For You

One thing that seems to be selling pretty well in Grand County are condominiums, which are typically priced at $300,000 and under. At the base of Winter Park Resort, Fraser’s Crossing and Founder’s Pointe are seeing a surge in activity due to short sales, said Jean Wolter with Real Estate of Winter Park.

Those properties are selling for an average of $300,000, half of what they sold for the first time around when the market peaked.

Due to nature of the economy, the buyer’s market is more second home driven, “people who are recession proof and are looking for an investment,” Wolter said. “They want the best priced, best looking place they can find. They are value driven, and many of these buyers have been watching the market up here since 2009.”

In Granby, Lance Gutersohn and Tina Shearon of ReMAX Peak to Peak are experiencing a success story with the short sale of 67 units in the Inn at SilverCreek. Since the units went on the market at the end of February, Shearon has closed on more than 50 of them.

With only 14 units left, the group sent out an email blast in advance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and Shearon has taken more than 70 calls in the past 24 hours, setting up a dozen appointments for the weekend.

“I expect to be sold out by the end of the weekend,” she said.

The biggest selling point is price, Gutersohn said. Studio units were priced as low as $17,000 and high-end loft suites are selling for less than $60,000.

“It’s a very unique opportunity,” said Shearon, who is finding customers among “people that never dreamed they’d be able to own a mountain retreat of their own.”

Shearon added: “I’m not aware of anything priced like this in another mountain resort community.”

More than 30 percent of her buyers have been real estate agents and financial consultants from the Front Range who learned about the deal through the Realtors network, did their due diligence, and “see this as a relatively low risk,” Shearon said.

The complex is run as a hotel, and owners have the option of joining a long-term or short-term rental program or keeping the place for the exclusive use of friends and family.

The complex does require hefty association dues, $450 to $820 per month. That covers all utilities as well as use of an indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, tennis and recreation center. One reason for the high dues, Gutersohn said, is that the association’s reserves are depleted and it needs to rebuild them.

Single family homes

There is a sweet spot in the single family housing market, said Clark Lipscomb, owner of Century 21 Winter Park Real Estate. Lipscomb recently reduced the prices on the nine remaining houses in Grand Park to fall within the price segment where buyers are looking – the average price of a home selling in the Fraser Valley in 2011 is $516,000.

Some 63 units in the $500,000-$650,000 market sold across the county in the past 14 months, Lipscomb said. If the market continues at that pace, Lipscomb said the Fraser Valley’s inventory in that price range could be depleted in less than a year.

“That’s pretty good,” said Lipscomb, who added that a 7-month inventory is considered a healthy market.

By comparison, there is 4 years worth of inventory in the $650,000 to $900,000 segment.

Lipscomb said his office is seeing many people who want to trade up, people in their late 30s and 40s who have kids and maybe already own a smaller place in the valley but want to trade up.

“They realize they can trade up today for 40 percent of what prices were at the peak,” he said.

That said, most of Grand Park’s buyers have paid cash, he said: “There is a lot of money sitting on sidelines. People are watching the market, waiting for it to hit bottom, and I believe we have.”

Once Grand Park sells out, Lipscomb said he is looking forward to going vertical on a smaller product that will fit the needs of a different market segment, starting at $399,000 for single family home.

On the upper end of the spectrum, buyers in the million-dollar market are finding good deals and paying cash for them, Riemenschneider said. They are picking up places for $1.1 million that used to be $1.6 million. “It’s a good value,” she said.

Across the county, Annie Ginsberg of ReMAX Resort of Grand County in Grand Lake said the market there has definitely softened, “but it did not plummet.” Sales are about the same as last year. Of the 22 sales in the Grand Lake area over the past six months, 12 were bank owned.

The average sale price in the Grand Lake area is $170,000 to $190,000, which has been primarily driven by foreclosures, Ginsberg said.

“What we are seeing with the spectacular new theater and Grand Lake Lodge reopening and the end of beetle kill epidemic and the rapid recovery of the forest is people want to come to the Grand Lake area,” Ginsberg said.

Land, they aren’t making any more of it. Yet, because of the bargain prices on houses in Grand County, vacant lots are among the toughest things to sell in today’s market.

The cost of building a house hasn’t gone down with the recession because, while builders have reduced the cost of their services, the cost of materials has been on an incline, offsetting any savings in labor.

And yet, Riemenschneider and Wolter said the perfect piece of property can still sell, like a 10-acre parcel in Beaver Mountain Preserve off County Road 50 that their colleague Mike Periolat sold recently. The property was located inside a 147-acre conservation easement with only 8 building sites. It sold for a surprising $467,500 after being on the market for only 73 days, they said. The average parcel in the Winter Park/Fraser area sells for $118,000 and sits on the market for 336 days.

“This was really unique piece of property, which explains how quickly it sold and price it sold for,” Riemenschneider said.

“I still feel Grand County is the No. 1 place to buy real estate in Colorado,” Ginsberg said.

Other realtors agreed that Grand County offers the best value for a resort community in the state.

These realtors all said they feel cautiously optimistic that the market, which is holding steady over last year, will start to pick up in the months to come.

“We see 65-70 percent of our business between now and November,” said Riemenscheider.

“I still feel Grand County is the No. 1 place to buy real estate in Colorado,” Ginsberg said.

Other realtors agreed that Grand County offers the best value for a resort community in the state.

These realtors all said they feel cautiously optimistic that the market, which is holding steady over last year, will start to pick up in the months to come.

“We see 65-70 percent of our business between now and November,” said Riemenscheider.

Go back to article